Written by Marykate OMalley, mother of three wonderful children, Gladwyne, PA
There is an island off the coast of New Jersey called Avalon. It has long wide beaches with sandpipers dancing in and out of waves, flirting with the wake. And dunes with paths that wander through wild flowers and sea grass and at last reveal a hue of blue that grows with every step and you see the serene expanse of the Atlantic. Doors are left unlocked, bicycles and wagons line driveways and ice cream lines wind around corners. The traffic along Avalon Avenue consists of bikers and runners, babies in jogging strollers, and the occasional dog trailing from a leash, panting in the summer heat.
It is my happy place. Avalon means summer and simplicity, flip flops and friends and sandy toes. It means walks on the beach collecting shells, barbecues and staying up late into the night catching up with old friends.
Beach bound with boogie boards
I spent summers here with friends in high school and college, working most importantly my tan (my poor skin – I am of Irish decent, what was I thinking) and at the local deli making hoagies as we Philadelphians like to say. I have been returning year after year with my children. My oldest was first here at 4 weeks young. Today Avalon is watching my children play in the surf, build sand forts and wade in tidal pools.
After college I wrote the piece below for some dear friends. My intent was to capture what they meant to me, what Avalon meant. And 17 years later it still hangs in their home, and still holds true. I love how life comes full circle. We move in and out of places and everything is the same, everything is different.
I usually arrive in Avalon with my mind churning my to do list – school supplies, and haircuts, scheduling flu shots and soccer sign ups. I leave Avalon with a trunk full of sand, and tired freckled children with hair that smells like salt air and smooth stones tucked away in pockets for safe keeping. My happy place. I hope all of you have a happy place, that is my wish for you.
The beach at morning – all blues and greys and silvers
The girls in a tidal pool, aka mermaid lagoon
To this shore I come, to hear the oceans song.
With the moon riding low,
Casting illuminating rays upon this ocean,
I sit back and recall,
Gentle days and nights of summers past.
Upon this rock I sit,
Drinking in this grace of dazzling lightness.
Upon this rock I come,
To find the leagues and legions of life’s infinite beauty.
While through this rock of friend and family we come to understand,
The faith and love that holds us through these storms.
Strong rock, cast upon a deserted shore.
Rock of family, rock of friend,
Forever faithful, forever true,
Forever bound by the magic and wonder,
Of an ocean song rising above a misty shore.
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